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Hunt is odd man out in House 36th; Pushkin to face Minimah in 37th

By Phil Kabler, Staff writer
LAWRENCE PIERCE | Gazette file photo

In Kanawha County’s 36th and 37th district House of Delegates primaries Tuesday, an eight-term delegate became the odd man out, while a musician/taxi driver prevailed in his first run for public office.

The 36th District Democratic primary pitted three incumbent delegates against former state Sen. Larry Rowe, who is hoping to return to the Legislature after a 10-year absence.

In the three-member district, the race Tuesday was to see which candidate would be eliminated, and it turned out to be Delegate Mark Hunt.

With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Rowe topped the field with 3,192 votes, or 30.5 percent of ballots cast. Delegate Nancy Guthrie finished second with 2,737 votes, followed by Delegate Danny Wells at 2,375.

Hunt was knocked out of the race with 2,150 votes.

The three nominees will face Republican challengers from a field of seven candidates, including six making first runs for public office. Brad White, an insurance agent who had the most extensive campaign, raising more than $24,000 and spending more than $8,000 through the end of April, topped the GOP ticket with 1,181 votes.

Also nominated was Stevie Thaxton, with 695 votes. Thaxton was the only GOP candidate with previous campaign experience, having unsuccessfully run for the House seat in 2012.

Lawyer/economist Vaughn Sizemore edged out Adam Marcum by seven votes for the final spot on the November ballot, with 535 votes to Marcum’s 528.

Also out of the race were Jennifer Knauff, 513 votes; Charlie Basford, 473; and George Moore, 343.

In the single-member 37th District, made up of Charleston’s downtown, East End and West Side flats, a diverse field of five Democrats vied for the seat being vacated by Delegate Meshea Poore, who ran unsuccessfully for the 2nd Congressional District nomination.

Musician/taxi driver Mike Pushkin prevailed by a large margin, with 562 votes, or 45 percent of the vote.

Pushkin ran a shrewd campaign, featuring campaign signs incorporating the yellow and black checkerboard design commonplace to taxis, and with a radio spot in which he played guitar and sang.

Charleston lawyer Richard Lindsay finished second, with 436 votes; followed by former Charleston City Councilman Archie Chestnut, 193 votes; public relations firm executive Brad Heflin, 127 votes; and current Charleston Councilman Robert Sheets, with 119 votes.

Pushkin will face Republican Charles Minimah, who has previously lost in the predominantly Democratic minority-influence district. Minimah ran unopposed Tuesday.

In the 36th, incumbent Delegates Guthrie, Hunt and Wells implied that Rowe had violated an unwritten rule of politics by entering the primary in an attempt to unseat an incumbent Democrat.

Rowe, however, stressed his experience serving two terms in the state Senate, and pointing out he is the only candidate from eastern Kanawha County, which makes up much of the 36th District.

Reach Phil Kabler at philk@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1220.


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